Alexis Carew #4, HMS Nightingale by J.A. Sutherland

Alexis Carew #4, HMS Nightingale by J.A. Sutherland


HMS Nightingale, Alexis Carew #4 by J.A. Sutherland
Source: Goodreads

HMS Nightingale

Alexis Carew  #4

J.A. Sutherland

Paperback, 425 pages
Published November 6th 2016 by Createspace Independent Publishing Platform
For Lieutenant Alexis Carew, it should be the perfect assignment - a command of her own and a chance to return to her home star system. What she finds is a surly crew, the dregs of every frigate and ship of the line to pass through on the way to the war's front, a first officer who thinks the command should have been his, and colonial worlds where they believe a girl's place is somewhere very different than command of a Queen's starship. Add to that the mysterious disappearances of ships vital to the war effort and an old enemy who seems intent on convincing her he's changed. Then there's the mongoose with an unnatural affinity for her boots.


Carol's Rating: ★★★★

Swashbuckling Intetstellar Adventures

In this, the 4th volume, Alexis is promoted to lieutenant and given charge of her own ship only to discover her crew to be a ragtag group of misfits with questionable sailing skills. Facing many challenges in her new role, Alexis leads her crew through exciting encounters, many with pirates and some with - wait! Could it really be? Ghostly Flying Dutchmen???

Entertaining and intriguing as always, the story is brought to life by Elizabeth Klett's stellar audio narration. While I enjoyed this book, I enjoyed it less than the other volumes. This is mainly because there seemed to be less of an emotional connection developed between the characters and I felt certain phrases were overused. Still, this volume is important in the overall story and ends with fabulous news - more volumes are coming!



Happy Reading!

Novel Gobblers Book Club icon

Red Butterfly by A.L. Sonnichsen

Red Butterfly by A.L. Sonnichsen

Red Butterfly

 A.L. Sonnichsen  

Club Selection for February 2017

Pages: 400 
Published February 2nd 2016 by Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers
A young orphaned girl in modern-day China discovers the meaning of family in this “heartbreaking, heartwarming, and impressive debut” (Publishers Weekly, starred review) told in verse, in the tradition of Inside Out and Back Again and Sold.

Kara never met her birth mother. Abandoned as an infant, she was taken in by an American woman living in China. Now eleven, Kara spends most of her time in their apartment, wondering why she and Mama cannot leave the city of Tianjin and go live with Daddy in Montana. Mama tells Kara to be content with what she has…but what if Kara secretly wants more?

Told in lyrical, moving verse, Red Butterfly is the story of a girl learning to trust her own voice, discovering that love and family are limitless, and finding the wings she needs to reach new heights.


Carol's Rating:  ★★★★★

"Don't worry if your new life has been tough.
Remember, it takes a while for a butterfly's wings to dry."

Every once in a while a book comes along that imprints itself in you and changes you forever. This is one of them.

A tender, tragic, relishing story of hope, isolation, adaptation, kindness, and love in a world where harsh political policies have triggered harsh choices and consequences for families and children. Though a fictional story about a young Chinese girl being raised in China as an American, it truthfully tells of ethical decisions faced by many in China since the One-Child policy was placed into effect in 1980. There are many questions about the characters that are answered with flawless timing as the story beautifully unfolds at a perfect tempo, keeping you intrigued, hopeful, and deeply moved. The Author's Note at the end of the book is powerful and added yet another layer of love and understanding to the story.

I borrowed this booked from our local library but it is one of the few that I will buy and place on my own shelf where I will see it, re-read it, and experience it again and again.

Happy Reading!


Inside Out & Back Again by Thanhha Lai

Inside Out & Back Again by Thanhha Lai
Inside Out & Back Again by Thanhha Lai - Book Cover

Inside Out & Back Again

Thanhha Lai

Club Selection for February 2017

Pages: 272 | Audio: 2 hrs 30 min
Published February 22nd 2011 by HarperCollins
For all the ten years of her life, Hà has only known Saigon: the thrills of its markets, the joy of its traditions, and the warmth of her friends close by. But now the Vietnam War has reached her home. Hà and her family are forced to flee as Saigon falls, and they board a ship headed toward hope. In America, Hà discovers the foreign world of Alabama: the coldness of its strangers, the dullness of its food . . . and the strength of her very own family.



Carol's Rating:  ★★★

Don't Pass This One By

This is a touching story of Vietnamese family that comes to America for refuge due to the fall of Saigon. Ten year old Ha tells her story in verse, which perfectly conveys the young voice of a child facing mature circumstances and events; her father is missing in action, her mother is doing her best to provide for and protect the family on her own, her country no longer exists, her new home in America is safety yet completely unfamiliar, her family must learn to accept assistance and the generosity of many and overlook cruelties inflicted by others, and Ha must learn to compromise, be grateful, and discover that love and family is the ultimate definition of home.

Ha is an adorable, spunky character that bristles at being told she cannot do something simply because she is a girl. She is smart, yet struggles with feeling stupid due to language and cultural barriers. Her moments in the sunshine are delightful. Best of all, is after having fallen in love with Ha, I discovered she was actually the talented author of this book and these were her experiences.

A wonderful, wonderful story for all ages that you won't want to miss.

Happy Reading!


Beatrix Potter’s Gardening Life by Marta McDowell

Beatrix Potter’s Gardening Life by Marta McDowell

Beatrix Potter's Gardening Life

The plants and places that inspired the children's tales

Marta McDowell

Pages: 340

The New York Times - Anne Raver
“You may well want to buy a copy to keep and several to give friends... the book is a visual delight.”

There aren’t many books more beloved than The Tale of Peter Rabbit and even fewer authors as iconic as Beatrix Potter. More than 150 million copies of her books have sold worldwide and interest in her work and life remains high. And her characters—Peter Rabbit, Jemima Puddle Duck, and all the rest—exist in a charmed world filled with flowers and gardens. Beatrix Potter’s Gardening Life is the first book to explore the origins of Beatrix Potter’s love of gardening and plants and show how this passion came to be reflected in her work. The book begins with a gardener’s biography, highlighting the key moments and places throughout her life that helped define her, including her home Hill Top Farm in England's Lake District. Next, the reader follows Beatrix Potter through a year in her garden, with a season-by-season overview of what is blooming that truly brings her gardens alive. The book culminates in a traveler’s guide, with information on how and where to visit Potter’s gardens today.

Carol's Rating: ★★★★★

I LOVE THIS BOOK!  It's an enchanting, lovely book loaded with Beaxtrix Potter's beautiful watercolor paintings and photographs that chronicle her life and the strong influence of gardens and nature in it.

It's divided into three parts; the first, about Beatrix's life, the second about the seasons in her gardens, and third is a travelogue-like take of visiting her home(s) today that also identifies what has changed and what hasn't. Lastly, the back of the book contains tables about the plants in her gardens.

This is a book to be cherished. It is a delight and one that I not only go back to time and again but one I often give as gifts to my friends.

New Words and Other Cool Stuff!



1).  "I do not often consider the stars," she wrote in her journal, "they give me a tissick." pg. 49

Tissick:  used to describe a tickly cough.  This was the only definition I could find for this word, which appears to be outdated and with several different spellings.

2).  "In the course of the familial peregrinations, Beatrix Potter began to appreciate gardens in a new way." pg. 44

Peregrinations: a late middle English noun meaning to travel from one place to another, especially on foot; a course of travel; a journey.


Charming Images


Visit Us On Pinterest

Follow Carol's board Beatrix Potter's Gardening Life by Marta McDowell on Pinterest.


Official Movie Trailer - Miss Potter


Discussion Questions


  1. Miss Potter was nervous about city life and dealing with publishers. Once she found out she would be published, she decided to consider this new life an adventure. Have you ever been nervous about doing something new in your life? How did you respond to the new situation? 
  2. Beatrix Potter was 32 when her first book was published. At this age she still had a maid who was always there to chaperone her. How has life changed for women since the Victorian Age? What is dating like for women today and how was dating different for Miss Potter and Mister Warne?
  3. In Potter’s day, a woman being able to support herself was very rare; however, Beatrix Potter had enough money to support herself for the rest of her life. So why were her parents so concerned about her future with Norman?
  4. How did Beatrix Potter begin to recover from her grief over the death of Norman? What are things that you do to pick yourself up after a sad event in life?
  5. Have you ever read the Peter Rabbit series? After viewing this film and learning more about Beatrice Potter’s life, do think about the Peter Rabbit series any differently? Why?
  6. Have you ever dreamt up characters that were so real to you, like Beatrice Potter, that you had to bring them to life through art or creative stories? What inspired the characters you imagined?

Happy Reading!

A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving

A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving

A Prayer for Owen Meany

John Irving

Pages: 690 / Audio: 26 hrs 53 mins

"I am doomed to remember a boy with a wrecked voice - not because of his voice, or because he was the smallest person I ever knew, or even because he was the instrument of my mother's death, but because he is the reason I believe in God; I am a Christian because of Owen Meany."

John Irving’s A Prayer for Owen Meany is the inspiring modern classic that introduced two of the author’s most unforgettable characters, boys bonded forever in childhood: the stunted Owen Meany, whose life is touched by God, and the orphaned Johnny Wheelwright, whose life is touched by Owen. From the accident that links them to the mystery that follows them–and the martyrdom that parts them–the events of their lives form a tapestry of fate and faith in a novel that is Irving at his irresistible best.

Movie Trailer

(The movie Simon Birch is loosely based on the novel A Prayer for Owen Meany)

Happy Reading!


Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

Club Selection for February 2016

Eleanor & Park

Rainbow Rowell

Pages: 336 / Audio: 8 hrs and 56 mins

#1 New York Times Best Seller!

"Eleanor & Park reminded me not just what it's like to be young and in love with a girl, but also what it's like to be young and in love with a book."-John Green, The New York Times Book Review

Bono met his wife in high school, Park says.
So did Jerry Lee Lewis, Eleanor answers.
I'm not kidding, he says.
You should be, she says, we're 16.
What about Romeo and Juliet?
Shallow, confused, then dead.
I love you, Park says.
Wherefore art thou, Eleanor answers.
I'm not kidding, he says.
You should be.

Set over the course of one school year in 1986, this is the story of two star-crossed misfits-smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try. When Eleanor meets Park, you'll remember your own first love-and just how hard it pulled you under.

A New York Times Best Seller!
A 2014 Michael L. Printz Honor Book for Excellence in Young Adult Literature
Eleanor & Park is the winner of the 2013 Boston Globe Horn Book Award for Best Fiction Book.
A Publishers Weekly Best Children's Book of 2013
A New York Times Book Review Notable Children's Book of 2013
A Kirkus Reviews Best Teen Book of 2013
An NPR Best Book of 2013

Novel Gobblers Perspective

Simply put, this book is terrific.

The characters are flawed and lovable. The story is brilliant. It is not predictable. It is realistic; sometimes funny, sometimes sad, sometimes troubling, sometimes beautiful. Our book club members all echoed the same sentiments - that this touching story carried us back to our teenage years and reminded us how we thought and felt at that age.

This was a super book that lives up all the good things you've heard about it.

Read it. You'll be glad you did.

About the Author


Eleanor & Park Playlists

The Inspiration 

The Soundtrack


Fan-Made Book Trailer

Rainbow Rowell
writes books. 

Sometimes she writes about adults (Attachments and Landline).

Sometimes she writes about teenagers (Eleanor & Park, Fangirl andCarry On.).

But she always writes about people who talk a lot. And people who feel like they’re screwing up. And people who fall in love.

When she’s not writing, Rainbow is reading comic books, planning Disney World trips and arguing about things that don’t really matter in the big scheme of things.

She lives in Nebraska with her husband and two sons.


Follow Rainbow on Spotify

"Music is really important to me when I’m writing. I build soundtracks for each book in my head, and I associate each scene with a specific song. The song gives me an emotional anchor for the scene. So even if I’m writing the scene over a week, I can stay in the same frame of mind and emotional place. (You can see all my book and character playlists on Spotify.)"


The Inspiration Behind the Story

"I've always wanted to write a first-love story. There's something so powerful about falling in love for the first time; it's like a drug. I was thinking about how, when you're 16, you have the capacity to fall in love more powerfully than you do at any other time of your life. But you have so little of your own to offer. You can't make any promises - you don't have time or space or freedom. All you can promise someone is what you feel. It's like every 16-year-old in love is Romeo or Juliet . . . I wanted to write a book that viscerally reminded people what it was like to feel that way."    ~

My motivation was to make people actually feel love, to give them a realistic view of it. If they’re young and never been in love, for them to know – yes, this how it feels. And if they’re older and they have, to feel it as a sense memory." ~Publishers Weekly


Fan Art, Interviews, Quotes, & More


Discussion Questions


Downloadable PDF: Eleanor & Park Reading Group Questions

  1. Eleanor says she and Park are too young for true love. Do you believe that? Do you think Eleanor believes that?
  2. How do Eleanor and Park's parents shape their outlook on relationships and the future?
  3. Is Eleanor's mother a good mother? Why does she stay with Richie?
  4. Why does Park's mother change her mind about Eleanor?
  5. How is Park's relationship with his mother different from his relationship with his father? Who see Park more clearly, his  father or his mother?
  6. Why is Park embarrassed by Eleanor? Is his embarrassment a betrayal?
  7. Steve says that he's Park's friend -- is he a true friend?
  8. Are Steve ad Tina good guys or bad guys in the story? Do you think Eleanor and Tina could ever be friends?
  9. How would Eleanor and Park's relationship be different in 2013? How would cell phones, digital music, and Internet access change their situation?
  10. What is the importance of music in Park's life and how is it different for Eleanor?
  11. Was Eleanor right to run away? Should she have left her brothers and sister behind?
  12. Was ther more she could have done to help them?
  13. Why doesn't Eleanor open Park's letters?
  14. What do you the postcard from Eleanor says? What do you think it means that she sent it?
  15. Do you think Eleanor and Park have a happy ending?

Bring on the tough stuff - there’s not just one right answer.

Source: Shmoop

  1. A major theme of this book is doomed love. Do you think Eleanor and Park's relationship was doomed from the beginning? Why?
  2. Eleanor and Park are each outsiders, but not in the same way. How is Eleanor different? What about Park?
  3. This book shows us two adult relationships that are polar opposites: Eleanor's mother's abusive relationship with Eleanor's stepfather, and the loving marriage of Park's parents. How does each of these relationships affect Eleanor and Park?
  4. Eleanor and Park's romance is definitely not love at first sight. How does Rowell hint at their connection from the start? How do we see their relationship change over the course of the story?
  5. Eleanor's stepfather, Richie, is the source of much of the evil in this book, but there are other factors that contribute to the abuse Eleanor endures throughout the story. What does this book teach us about what it's like to be a victim of abuse?
  6. One thing you're bound to notice right away is that this book's point of view alternates between Eleanor and Park, sometimes multiple times in the same chapter. Why do you think Rowell does this? How does this switch affect your reading experience?
  7. Does this switch change over time?


Happy Reading!


The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson

The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson

The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared

Jonas Jonasson

Pages: 400 / Audio: 12 hrs

After a long and eventful life, Allan Karlsson ends up in a nursing home, believing it to be his last stop. The only problem is that he's still in good health, and in one day, he turns 100. A big celebration is in the works, but Allan really isn't interested (and he'd like a bit more control over his vodka consumption). So he decides to escape. He climbs out the window in his slippers and embarks on a hilarious and entirely unexpected journey, involving, among other surprises, a suitcase stuffed with cash, some unpleasant criminals, a friendly hot-dog stand operator, and an elephant (not to mention a death by elephant).

It would be the adventure of a lifetime for anyone else, but Allan has a larger-than-life backstory: Not only has he witnessed some of the most important events of the twentieth century, but he has actually played a key role in them. Starting out in munitions as a boy, he somehow finds himself involved in many of the key explosions of the twentieth century and travels the world, sharing meals and more with everyone from Stalin, Churchill, and Truman to Mao, Franco, and de Gaulle. Quirky and utterly unique, The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared has charmed readers across the world.

I must admit that I too, was charmed by this novel. I listened to the audiobook, in which Steven Crossley delivers a magnificent narration. The story was engaging, surprising, often confounding, amusing, and filled with endearing characters.

As Allan serendipitously bounces from one adventure to another, he gathers unlikely friends and reveals glimpses of his colorful past. Allan is truly a unique individual.

“…what finally formed young Allan’s philosophy of life were his mother’s words when they received the news of his father’s death. It took a while before the message seeped into his soul, but once there, it was there forever:

Things are what they are, and whatever will be will be.”

Having attended school for only three years and becoming an orphan at the age of thirteen, Allan “…was particularly accomplished when it came to making explosions by mixing nitroglycerin, cellulose nitrate, ammonium nitrate, natrium nitrate, wood flour, dinitrotoluen, and a few other ingredients. That ought to come in handy someday, thought Allan…”

And so the adventures unfold. This is an unforgettable story that I highly recommend to anyone who doesn't take things too seriously and is looking for some laugh out loud entertainment.

Movie Trailer



After reading the novel, I discovered the movie. It was faster paced than the book but left out many of what I felt were the best parts of the story (for example, "My name is Mr. Dollars...") and didn't allow for the development of the characters. Still, it was a fun movie and I did enjoy that the language shifted back and forth between English and Swedish with subtitles. Maybe I would have enjoyed the movie more if I had seen it before I read the book but even so, I think the book is by far the better experience.

Happy Reading!